Select Houston Miscellany

Here are some Houston stories and accounts over the years:

Hugh de Padvinan

Hugo (or Hugh) de Padvinan was a Norman knight templar who followed Walter Fitz-Allan and made his way to Scotland.  According to the historian Amelia Williams - as quoted in Cleburne Huston's 1968 book Bold Legacy: The Story of the Houston-Huston Ancestors - Hugh led fifty of his men to the rescue of King Malcolm of Scotland and bore him to safety.  For this act he was bestowed the rank of Scottish knight and an estate in Renfrewshire. 

Public records showed that land was transferred from Baldwin of Biggar, viscount of Lanarkshire, to Hugh and that this came to be called the parish of Houston. The earliest recorded documentation of Hugh was circa 1160 - when he was a witness to the signature of Walter Fitz-Allan, then holder of the lands of Strathgryffe in the valley of  Clyde.

There is also literature that suggests that Hugh of Paduinan was the son of Baldwin, the viscount of Lanarkshire.  In his Sherifdoms of Lanark and Renfrew (compiled circa 1710, printed in 1831), William Hamilton wrote of the Houstons as follows: "This family is come from Baldwin de Bigeris."  Baldwin's landholdings included the parish of Kilpeter, which was later deeded to Hugh.

The Houstons of Johnstone

The lands of Little Mains of Johnstone were purchased in the 1640's by Sir Ludovick Houston of Houston, who gave them to his second son George.

The latter's namesake became the 4th Laird of Johnstone in 1757 at the age of 14 years.  During his 58 years as Laird, he extended Johnstone Castle, developed the extensive coal mines at Quarrelton, and opened lime works at Floor Craig.  In the late 18th century Quarrelton Colliery yielded 20,000 tons of coal per year and employed 30-40 miners and 12 pit ponies.  There were also cotton mills on the Houston Estate.

In 1781 George began to sell land for housing near the Bridge of Johnstone and to plan the layout of the new town of Johnstone.  He became a wealthy industrialist and was a partner in establishing the Paisley Union Bank in 1788. 

Reader Feedback - The Rare Houfton Surname

My surname is Houfton.  This is extremely rare!  In fact I am, as far as I can find out, the last remaining male Houfton of my own family.  My earliest certain ancestor was John Houfton, born in 1785 in Ibstock.  My forbears mostly stem from Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. 

I have a theory that when the old script letter "s" was written as an "f" then my name could possibly have originally been Houston.  Looking up Houftons almost always results in find Houstons in Scotland and Ireland, but no more Houftons in the UK except my ancestors. 

Best wishes 
Benjamin Houfton (benlin@go-plus.

James Houston - The Marksman at the Siege of Londonderry

W.T. Latimer's 1902 book A History of the Irish Presbyterians narrates the following:

"James Houston was the celebrated marksman who killed the standard-bearer of King James as his Majesty approached the walls of Londonderry during the siege of 1689.  His son Christopher, a boy of nine years old, was with him during the siege.  That boy afterwards became the father of three sons, one of these being the grandfather of the Rev. James Houston of Ballindrait."

Houston Place Names in America

The following places were named after famous Houstons:

Named After
Houston Street, New York
William Houstoun, delegate to the Continental Congress
Houston county, Georgia
Governor John Houstoun of Georgia
City of Houston, Texas
Sam Houston, first Governor of Texas
Houston county, Texas
Sam Houston, first Governor of Texas
Houston county, Alabama
Governor George Smith Houston of Alabama

Then there is Hustonville, Kentucky.  In the late 1700’s, there was a settlement in Kentucky at the junction of trials linking the Kentucky River and Green Rivers and Stanford and the Falls of Ohio (now Louisville). Because of this large intersection of highly travelled trails, the settlement was known as “the Cross Roads.”

In 1826 Sam Huston opened a mercantile store and settled in the village.  During his time living there, he was able to convince state officials to route the new state road through the village.  This became a landmark decision for the future of Hustonville.  Shortly thereafter, the residents of the village voted to change the community’s name to Hustonville in honor of Sam Huston.

Sam Houston and Balleybolly in County Antrim

Born in 1793 at Timber Ridge Virginia, Sam Houston was the fifth child of Samuel Houston and Elizabeth Paxton.  His family had settled in an area of the Shenandoah valley that was filling up with Ulster-Scot farms from the 1730s.   The Houstons moved to Tennessee in 1807 and it was there that Sam Houston would come into contact with the Cherokee Indians.

His association with the state of Texas remains the most remembered part of his life.  It was after the defeat of Texan forces at the Alamo that General Sam Houston would play a leading role.  His forces defeated the Mexican Santa Anna at San Jacinto on April 21, 1836 and thereby secured the independence of Texas.  Sam Houston was to become the first President of Texas and a folk hero.

Samuel Houston's family are believed to have come from the Ballyboley/Ballybracken area of county Antrim. It appears that a Captain John Houston was granted land there during Cromwell's time.  Today there is a General Sam Houston plaque by the Ballyboley forest entrance.  The plaque is dedicated to "one whose roots lay in these hills whose ancestor John Houston emigrated from this area."

David Houston, A Kansas Pioneer

David Houston's ancestry traced back to John Houston, the founder of this branch of the Houston family in America, who had emigrated to Lancaster county, Pennsylvania in 1734.  His son William, a Revolutionary patriot, had fought at the battle of Brandywine (where he was severely wounded, taken prisoner and thrust on board a British prison ship in Philadelphia).  His son John, born in 1782, had married Grace McCall and moved to Ohio in 1800.  Son David was born there in 1827.

David, having studied law, arrived in Garnett, Kansas in 1858 to practice as a lawyer.  He had an active Civil War before, as Colonel Houston, returning to become involved in local politics.  In 1873 he purchased the Daily Commercial of Leavenworth which he edited two years before disposing of it.  He was also one of the pioneers in railroad building and for many years was a director of the Leavenworth, Lawrence & Galveston railroad.

The following tribute to him and his wife Mary appeared in 1912 in Kansas: A Cyclopedia of State History:

"Colonel Houston has now reached the advanced age of eighty-four years and can look back upon a career full of years and honor, a career which for its activity and usefulness has set an unusually high standard for the future citizens of this state.  He and his wife, in a beautiful and serene old age, are still residing in Garnett in the old home, which is endeared to them by nearly a half century of associations and there they command the respect and esteem of all who know them."   

The Huston Family

Their story began in Ireland in 1840.  It was then that Alexander Hughston and his wife Margaret decided to leave their home in Tobermore, Derry and emigrate to Canada.  They settled on a small parcel of land near Orangeville in Ontario, where they changed the spelling of their family name to Huston.  Eight years later son Robert was born on the family farm.  They remained on the farm and had three more children, Anne in 1873, Alexander in 1875, and Margaret in 1877. 

It must have been rough going trying to feed four children and to eke out a living on land that seems to grow stones as readily as any other crop.  Whatever the reason, Robert gave up farming and moved his family to Toronto where he was able to get work as a building contractor.  The last of his four children, Walter, was born there in 1884.

Walter Huston began his Broadway acting career in the 1920's and made many Hollywood movies during the 1930's.  He is the father of the film director John Huston and the grandfather of the actress Anjelica Huston and the actor Danny Huston. 

Lady Lucy Houston

She was born Lucy Radmall, the daughter of a box-maker.  She started out at the age of fifteen as a chorus girl.  A year later, in 1873, she eloped to Paris with an older man who, on his death nine years later, set her up for life.

After a very active life and two marriages, she married in 1924 for the third time at the age of sixty seven to the Scottish shipping magnate Sir Robert Houston - a man described by the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography as "a hard, ruthless, unpleasant batchelor."  They lived as tax exiles in Jersey.       

When Sir Robert showed her his will, she reportedly tore it up.  She said that one million pounds (a huge sum in those days) was insufficient.  Sir Robert then suffered a series of mental disorders.  He believed that his food was being poisoned and he would employ a food-taster on his yacht the Liberty.  He did die in 1926, leaving his widow £5.5 million.

Lucy returned to England with money to burn.  Today she is best known for her gifts in support of British aviation.  At the time she was known for her fascist leanings and for her admiration of Mussolini.  She is said to have paid for nine by-election meetings of the National Government to be disrupted. 

Her letters were usually written on colored paper with violet ink.  She was so upset by the Abdication Crisis of 1936 that she stopped eating and soon died of a heart attack. 

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